The Word Is Uhh are an exciting addition to South African music. The Cape Town-based duo recently brought out their debut album Grosvenor Beach – a collection of slow raps and playful, atmospheric production – along with a series of custom artworks.
If you haven’t heard of them before, The Word Is Uhh is Damascvs and Jon Laura. Having both grown up in Durban, the two musicians moved to Cape Town before meeting up and making music. Or as Laura puts it, “Two Durban boys who met and grew wiser in Cape Town.”
After teasing us Grosvenor Beach with a few single releases, the two released their full album at the end of October via Cape Town-based label Quit Safari. At its core, Grosvenor Beach is an honest album. The first listen will put forward an idea of two friends making music in their spare time, freestyling, and playing around with sound. It’s more polished than that, of course, but the authenticity of Grosvenor Beach is its strongest aspect. This is based on the fact that the album is a narrative one, filled with memory and anecdotal bars.
“An overarching story is the departure point for me, and everything flows from there,” explains Laura. “I like to reference whatever happened to me most recently when I write. Switching between spelling out exactly what I want to get across, to leaving a bit of guesswork.”
Grosvenor, a school on the Bluff, is where the album takes its name, Laura says. “The album feels like playing sport near the ocean. Grosvenor Beach is an ode to that, a place that only exists through the music.”
For Damascvs, the album’s best described as “Humid as hell” and process-wise, came naturally. “It obviously starts with a feeling, whatever the instruments are telling you,” he explains. “Then I just started hearing how the vocals could sit with that and what they could be about, and then I let my imagination go.”
While both artists put in the vocal work, Damascvs handled most of the production on Grosvenor Beach, with Sebastiano Zanasi lending a hand on some of the songs, too.
There are a few stand-out tracks – ‘Hominid’ is a brilliant display of the synchronicity between the two, and maintains a steady and melodic pace throughout. ‘Batistuta’ – a track filled with big, boastful loops and a high-handed vocal delivery is a personal favourite, while ‘Lani Spice’ allows the duo to really play around with production.
Rounding off the album are a series of artworks and photographs by various local artists. The album cover itself is a softly-coloured oil painting of the two by Erin Chaplin, while Jody Brand, Jade Paton, Luke Bell Doman, Anton Herholdt, and Ismaeel Solomon contribute to artworks for all of the tracks.
Give Grosvenor Beach a listen below.
Album cover artwork by Erin Chaplin